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5 Flavors of Scary

Looking for the perfect word to describe that coal-black, spindly, slowly creeping spider? Luckily there are many ways to express the particular subtleties of horror that you’re feeling. Try these words on for size…

Black widow spider

Photo via Wikipedia


Adj. [skair-ee] Origin: 1575-85
1. Causing fright or alarm.
Via Random House Dictionary

For expressing a thing’s fear-inducing power at the most basic level: That is one scary spider. 


Adj. [chil-ing]
Origin: Before 900 A.D.
1. Causing a feeling of sudden fear, anxiety, or alarm.
2. Casting a depressing influence or sensation.
3. Possessing a lack of warmth of feeling, unfriendliness or coldness.

An unsettling flavor of scary: Despite the smirk that hung on his lips, the killer’s chilling stare was entirely devoid of empathy. 

Ghost of the Brown Lady

Brown Lady of Raynham Hall, a claimed ghost photograph by Captain Hubert C. Provand. First published in Country Life magazine, 1936. Via Wikipedia.


Adj. [hawr-uh-fahy-ing]
Origin: 1785-95
1. Causing great distress, shock or dismay.
2. Awful, terrifying, dreadful.

A bit more dramatic than simply scary: Laura paled as the horrifying realization that she’d been exposed to the flesh-eating bacteria settled in. 


Adj. [kree-pee]
Origin: 1825-35
1. Having or causing a creeping sensation of the skin, as from horror or fear.
2. Having or causing a sensation of repulsion, horror, or fear, as of creatures crawling on the skin.

More likely to make you shudder than scream: The creepy sensation of being followed made the hair on the back of Ben’s neck stand on end.


Adj. [spoo-kee]
Origin: 1850-55
1. Like or befitting a spook or ghost.
2. Eerie, scary.

Scary with a paranormal twist: More than once, I caught a flash of movement in my peripheral vision while exploring the spooky, abandoned house.


Adj. [bluhd-kurd-ling]
Origin: 1930-35
1. Arousing terror; horrifying.

Often refers to a sudden action: Her eyes widened in fear as the bloodcurdling scream was suddenly silenced.

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